Majolica designates Italian tin-glazed pottery dating from the Renaissance. The name is thought to come from the medieval Italian word for Majorca, an island on the route for ships bringing Hispano-Moresque wares from Valencia to Italy. Moorish potters from Majorca are reputed to have worked in Sicily and it has been suggested that their wares reached the Italian mainland from Caltagirone An alternative explanation of the name is that it comes from the Spanish term obra de Malaga, denoting “[imported] wares from Malaga”.
During the Renaissance, the term maiolica referred solely to lusterware, including both Italian-made and Spanish imports, but eventually the term came to be used when describing ceramics made in Italy, lustered or not, of tin-glazed earthenware. With the Spanish conquest of Mexico, tin-glazed maiolica wares came to be produced in the Valley of Mexico as early as 1540, at first in imitation of tin-glazed pottery imported from Seville.
Tin glaze gives makers a brilliant white, opaque surface to paint over. The colours are applied as metallic oxides or as fritted underglazes, to the unfired glaze, which absorbs pigment like fresco, making errors impossible to fix, but preserving the brilliant colors of the Renaissance in a way that paintings cannot. The entire surface is then covered with a thin clear glaze that protects the underglazes and gives them a brilliant color. The Maiolica thus requires a second firing, and in the case of lustred wares, yet a third, at a lower temperature. Kilns required wood, only to be found on hillsides, at ever higher altitudes, and a source of suitable clay. Materials for glazes usually had to be imported. The fifteenth-century wares that initiated maiolica as an artform were the product of a long technical evolution, in which medieval lead-glazed wares were improved by the addition of tin oxides, under the initial influence of Islamic wares imported through Sicily. Such archaic wares are sometimes dubbed “proto-maiolica”.
During the later fourteenth century the limited palette of colours was expanded from the traditional manganese purple and copper green to embrace cobalt blue, antimony yellow and iron-oxide orange. Sgraffito wares were also produced, in which the white tin-oxide slip was decoratively scratched to produce a design from the revealed body of the ware: sgraffito wasters excavated at kilns in Bacchereto and Montelupo as well as at Florence show that such wares were produced more widely than at Perugia and Città di Castello, their traditional attributions.
Here we are offer a rare and beautiful pair of outstanding Spanish Cascades Harlequins. These two stand at 11.5 inches tall and 6.5 inches wide and 4 inches deep. Each is signed with CASCADES and MADE IN SPAIN in green on the base and in perfect condition.
Antique Porcelain & Pottery